Don’t Eliminate the Entertainment Budget

entertainment budgetOften, when times are economically tight, as they are now for most of us, the entertainment or fun budget is the first thing to go. Just because there is less money available, doesn’t mean that there has to be less fun.

Do Put Something in the Budget for Entertainment

Designate some amount for family fun, even if it is only limited to $20 a month or even less. Budgeting for entertainment sends the message that family fun is important, even when it isn’t expensive. If you create a zero-based family fun budget you may wind up indulging anyway, and blowing your overall budget out of whack.

There is a parallel with dieting. If you deprive yourself completely of anything you love, you may hold off for a few days, but it won’t be long before you blow all of your calories on that giant slice of chocolate cake and then eventually give up on dieting for good.

Getting creative with a limited entertainment budget can be fun in itself, and the kids will learn a valuable lesson about saving.

Take Advantage of Reward Programs

There are plenty of reward programs out there that will offer free fun activities. Schools, libraries and businesses often give children free passes to amusement parks or community events as a reward for good grades or reading a certain number of books. Check locally to see which programs in your area are available for your family might be able to use.

There are also online reward programs that will give you the extra money you might use toward your entertainment. Recycle Bank gives you points for recycling that can then get turned into free tickets, gift cards and more.

Free Classes

Sign up for free classes for both children and adults. Lego stores sponsor a free build event once a month, and kids can take the legos home with them for free. Lowes and Home Depot also offer free crafts for children using real tools, and Williams Sonoma offers adults free cooking classes.

Many community centers and libraries also offer free classes for everyone in the family. Make a wreath, build a website, learn to rock climb and more.

More Free Fun

Churches and your town may be sponsoring free fun events right now. Everything from moons bounces (bounce houses) to free music in the park are common. Check your community websites or community television channel for updates. You can also look in your local paper for upcoming free events.

While these event tend to be more prevalent in the summer and during the winter holidays, you can still find available free fun all year long.


Volunteer opportunities abound and they often come with perks such as free admission to concerts and events, free memberships and more. You’ll feel good about giving your time as a family, while being entertained at the same time. Just choose a cause that everyone in the family is excited about, and one that is open to child volunteers. Some good suggestions: botanical gardens, zoos, museums, beach clean up day, and more. The website Volunteer Match can help you find something perfect.

With all of these free and low-cost opportunities for fun, there is no need to eliminate the entertainment budget.